The other day I was speaking with a colleague who has been teaching Social Studies for 25 years. We were discussing some of the technologies that are available (Moodle, Wikis, Blogging, Second Life,Click Response Technology, CellPhone responses, etc.) He had a very valid question, "Why should these technologies be utilized for discussion? Why can't the kids just raise their hands and participate through verbal discussion when called on as well? Are we setting an unrealistic scenario for them when they go out into the work force? Its doubtful that their boss is going to ask them to Moodle a work order." I know this discussion might seem contrary to the goals of the Web 2.0 organization, but I saw a lot of valid arguments from this teacher. What does the community think?

Tags: 2.0, New, Practical., Technologies, Web

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Some of the natives seem rather 'primitive'! Couldn't agree more, Nancy, so the use of technology needs to very effectively intentional -else glitz and glamour will drown genuine learning.
Adam, My hub worked from home for IBM for years and most of his work was done through video conferencing--that is face to face. The faces are just thousands of miles apart. We'll see how the new workers adapt, if they can find a job that is.
As a technology teacher I feel that is necessary to utilize some of the new technology. In many classes soft skills are still a requirement, whether its presentations, speeches, group work, that art will not get lost. Technology is simply a way to obtain more information or relay information is a more efficient way. It will never be able to take the place of person to person communucation.
I think that technology has a lot of useful affordabilities. But recently I've been thinking about one that would apply in any discussion oriented classroom. How many of us have facilitated discussions in which students were literally sitting on the edges of their seats wanting to make the next comment but couldn't speak until ten other students had said what was on their mind. When I was a classroom teacher I used to have a speaker's list so that students didn't have to sit there with their hands in the air.

Well, today, student's don't have to wait their turn to share what's on their minds. Instead they could use one of several technology widgets that would enable them to add their thoughts to the conversation. The teacher could use a smart board to broadcast these thoughts onto the screen.

The skill of electronically submitting contributions to a class discussion should not take the place of verbal contributions. But, how many of us do not benefit from first writing something down before speaking it aloud? In many ways technology makes it possible to have two discussions at one time: one verbal and one written. Instead of sitting on the edges of their seats waiting to make their comments students can spend the time thinking critically about both their ideas and those of others.
Matt, I'm old. I have real concerns about the whole focus and concentration issue (as it pertains to backchanneling), I just can't believe that students can listen, digest, and think while also typing, chatting and commenting. It reminds me of all the 'controversy' lately about what mutlitasking really is--instead of getting more done most people get everything done less well. I know there are edubloggers who disagree but ---"what are they thinking". N.
My opinion is that we should not use these technologies to replace what has worked well in the past, but to improve things that have not worked. Face-to-face group discussions and lectures work well much of the time, but of course, there are times when students need additional support. For instance, I teach writing, and it is impossible to address the needs of every student during regular class time. Each student struggles with his or her own weaknesses. A more advanced student may be ready to understand the nuance of voice in writing, while someone with emerging skills needs to review comma rules. Without Web 2.0 technology, one of my only alternatives is to schedule one-on-one consultations with students to address their individual needs. There is nothing wrong with this, and I still often schedule meetings if I feel like that would best meet the needs of the student. However, right now I have three classes with a total of approximately 60 students. It is quite difficult to arrange a physical meeting outside of class with even half of them over the course of a semester. Yet I can use technology in all kinds of innovative ways to give individual instruction. These methods are more efficient (I can use the same tutorial for multiple students, rather than having to repeat the same information dozens of times), and many times the technology meets a wider variety of learning styles.

I also believe that the use of technology can just make things more interesting. I make YouTube videos concerning grammar rules, which I include when I give feedback on papers. This is, in my opinion, a more dynamic way to give feedback than simply circling an error and scribbling "comma splice" in the margin.

Again, as the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. In my opinion, technology alone will never be able to replace a good teacher. And the use of technology does not automatically make someone a good teacher. But if someone is a good teacher AND they find ways to use technology to augment their methods--really, who could argue against that? I have to admit that I feel a nagging suspicion that educators who protest the advance of technology for pedagogical reasons may really be expressing a fear of the unknown, or a fear than they may become obsolete or irrelevant. I understand some of the skepticism; technology by itself does not replace teaching. But why not use every tool we have in the best way we can?
I think part of what kids need to learn is how to make the decision about what to use and when. True, they might not use an online environment to do a purchase order - but they might need it for something else. When the time comes for them to use a tool . . . any tool . . . they need to have the background knowledge to make wise decisions for themselves.
Raising a hand and participating verbally - very important. Composing and writing a well thought-out discussion response - also, very important.
First, I don't think it's unrealistic to assume that a student in today's workforce will be asked to use some kind of electronic gadget and/or technology to get his/her work done. The UPS delivery person, for example, uses a touch pad that is linked to a database. So, knowing how some technology works can be important in any position.

Secondly, it makes me wonder if he lectures primarily or is more differentiated in his teaching approach. While I don't think that lecture is a bad thing, I do believe that small group work and interaction is pretty effective in student learning. Using technology is just an outgrowth of that and not a replacement.

Finally, I think it's clever for teachers to use blogs, wikis, and microblogging to inform students of what's happening in class. It hold the students accountable for getting their work done, at the very least. On the other end of the spectrum, I can see how it fires the kids up and encourages them to take learning into their own hands, expanding upon what they know and want to know.



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